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Last-Modified: 1996/02/05

Transcription Source: Fifty Years Ago: Darkness  Before
Dawn.  United  States  Holocaust Memorial  Museum,  100
Raoul  Wallenberg Place, S.W., Washington, D.C.  20024-
2150. p. 184-5.

Camps in Eastern Europe
Danes in Stutthof Concentration Camp

The  following document describes conditions for Danish
prisoners in Stutthof concentration camp. The  original
of this document is located in the National Archives in
Washington, D.C.

Enclosure  no.  1 to dispatch no. 4797, dated  December
29,   1944,  from  the  American  Legation,  Stockholm,
Sweden,  entitled:  "German Concentration  Camps  Where
Danes Are Confined."

Source: Danish Press Service release, December 12, 1944

            Title: The Concentration Camp at Stutthof

(DPT)_The  opposition in Denmark has received authentic
reports from one of the most famous concentration camps
in  Germany,  the  Stutthof camp  in  the  vicinity  of
Danzig,  where 40,000 to 50,000 people of all  European
nationalities  are kept as prisoners  of  the  Gestapo.
There  are  only a few people against whom  accusations
can  be made. Most of them are there only because  they
are  suspected.  Among  the Danish  prisoners  are  the
communists whom the Germans "took over" in the Ho"rserd
camp  on  August 29, 1943, when the Danish  authorities
did  not  dare to take the responsibility  and  release
them,  something which would have saved them. Later,  a
number  of prisoners were transferred to the camp  from
the Fro"slev  camp,  especially people  who  have  been
engaged in illegal newspaper work in Denmark.

From  the  report  it appears that the  Danes  are  the
prisoners  who  fare best in the camp,  mainly  because
they  are  allowed  to  receive parcels  of  food,  the
contents  of which they share as much as possible  with
the other prisoners. They are further considered to  be
the  prisoners who at their arrival were  in  the  best
psychical  and  physical condition. The  Russians  were
treated most rudely.

The  day is long in a concentration camp. The prisoners
are  turned  out  already at 3:30.  After  the  morning
parade  in  searchlights' flare,  the  cleaning  up  of
barracks and eating breakfast, the work starts at 6:30.
In  the  summer, it goes on for twelve  hours,  in  the
winter  until  it becomes dark. The work  is  performed
exclusively  within  the camp territory  and  comprises
digging, sawing wood and the like, and also the loading
and  unloading  of  trucks. In the  vicinity  of  other
concentration  camps, for instance the  Buchenwald  and
Oranienburg  camps,  gardens have  been  laid  out  and
factories  built  where the prisoners are  employed  as
slaves,  but  there seem to be no such arrangements  at
Stutthof. The work is, on the whole, to no purpose.  At
present,   the  Danish  prisoners  seem   to   have   a
comparatively  "good work", but the first  four  months
are said to have been terrible.

As  everywhere in German camps and prisons, the food is
insufficient.  For dinner, such meals as cabbage  soup,
soup  of  common beets, etc. are served. There is  meat
only  once a week and the portions are very small. When
the  working day is over, there is a parade again,  and
it  is  said to be both severe and long. The  prisoners
are  then  free, but they have not much use  for  their
leisure. Most of them are so tired and hungry that they
sleep  most  of the time. They also work half  Sundays.
The  prisoners read a little and have founded  a  small
library of the books which have been sent to them.  The
sanitary conditions are said to have improved lately so
that  the prisoners now have the opportunity to take  a
bath.  In  all  the concentration camps,  even  in  the
Stutthof  camp,  the  lice are  a  dangerous  and  very
perceptible plague, and the Germans do not do enough to
combat this danger.

The  prisoners do not have enough clothes. Most of them
still only have the clothes which they had on when they
were  arrested or a special kind of prisoner's garb,  a
kind  of  overall. In many cases, they were allowed  to
choose   between  underwear  and  shirt  when   leaving
Denmark. They are all machine cut, except three of them
who  have a V-sign on the sleeve. This is said to be  a
special favor. The climate is almost Russian, and  they
therefore have good use for warm socks, sweaters,  etc.
As the work is carried on in all kinds of weather, most
of  the  prisoners  long  for rain  coats,  and  it  is
difficult to get the clothes dry again. This  seems  in
many  cases  to  have been the cause of the  pneumonias
which have claimed so many human lives.

The  mortality  percentage in  the  Stutthof  camp  is,
however,  rather  low, but the danger of  epidemics  is
very great as the Germans have stowed in up to 450  men
in  dormitories  intended for 200  men.  The  prisoners
sleep  together two and two. Only the oldest ones  have
"beds"  to themselves! What this means in the  case  of
the  appearance  of a contagious disease  need  not  be
emphasized. The mutual relations between the  prisoners
is  good,  but the depression may, of course,  now  and
then  cause conflicts. The prisoners have a canteen  of
their  own where they can buy carrots and some kind  of
soft  drink. Also in this respect, the Danes are better
off,  as, with their better physique they are  able  to
manage the work and obtain the "wages" which are  paid.
As the drinking water is very bad, the Danish prisoners
drink  almost  exclusively soft drinks.  This  probably
also  contributes  to  the  low  mortality  percentage.
Maltreatment also occurs in these dreary prison  camps,
but  the impression is that it is for the most part  an
outlet for the brutality of the wardens.

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